Reaching new heights—adaptive rock climbing comes to Maggie Daley Park

By Angela Gagnon | Staff Writer

Published July 4, 2018

At first glance, the Maggie Daley Climbing Wall might seem daunting.

The mere thought of ascending 40 feet by gripping tiny rocks would give anyone pause, let alone someone in a wheelchair.

But, through a partnership between Adaptive Adventures and the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, anyone who wants to climb can.

Al Schiewe, one of the adaptive climbing lead volunteers, secures climber Suzen Riley in the ARC (adaptive ropes course) harness in preparation for her ascent. Photo by Angela Gagnon

For the third year, the Maggie Daley’s Climbing Wall hosts climbing opportunities every second and fourth Monday of the month for people with physical disabilities. Instruction, adaptive gear, support and encouragement are all provided.

Chris Werhane, the adaptive sports lead
in Chicago, says the Intro to Climbing
program welcomes about 40 climbers and
volunteers.

“We focus on what’s most comfortable
for the person climbing, what’s needed for
them to be successful,” Werhane said.
The adaptive equipment options can be
customized to fit the climber’s needs.

Oak Park resident and climber Suzen Riley uses an adaptive ropes course (ARC) harness along with the pulley system and handle-bar style “ascender” to experience the thrill of the climb. When she climbs, volunteer belays assist with the pulley system, and Riley grips the ascender to ratchet herself up.

“When you get up there, it’s so beautiful,” Riley said. “It’s good exercise and you feel this exhilaration that you’ve actually done it.”

The trained volunteers who assist with the climbs are just as vital to the process as the equipment.

Some climbers use side support wherein a volunteer climbs next to them as they ascend the wall. The side climber might help place a weaker limb on the rock or provide verbal assistance for visually impaired climbers. There is no limit to the styles and customized assistance climbers can use.

Adaptive Adventures was founded in 1999 by two individuals with physical disabilities who saw a need for sporting opportunities. Adaptive Adventures provides programs, camps and clinics for cycling, climbing, kayaking, skiing, sailing, scuba and more.

Greg Zbrezezny, the Chicago Program Director of Adaptive Adventures, added that they provide scholarships, too.

“The goal is to make it accessible to everyone,” said Chicago volunteer and belayer Megan Snowder.

The outdoor program will run through October, weather permitting. To learn more or to register, visit www.adaptiveadventures.org

Chicago Spring Half Marathon and 10K returns to Maggie Daley Park

By Angela Gagnon | Staff Writer

On May 20, Maggie Daley Park will once again host the Chicago Spring Half Marathon 10K and Junior Dash. The race has a new title sponsor, Byline Bank, but participants can look forward to the same exceptional race experience provided in the past.

Lifetime Regional Brand Manager Scott “Hootie” Hutmacher said New Eastside residents might remember the half marathon starting and ending in Lakeshore East Park—and for seven years, that was the case.

“It was originally created by Magellan Development Group to find a way to bring
a special event to Lakeshore East Park,” Hutmacher said. “The first packet pickup
was held in the Aqua [building].”

Today, due in part to the Wanda Vista construction, the race starts and finishes
on Columbus Dr. at Maggie Daley Park. The course incorporates both streets and
the Lakefront Path, winding through Museum Campus and offering sweeping
skyline views.

New Eastside resident Joan Garcia is looking forward to participating in the
race. “The upcoming 10K has allowed me to have a taste of training for longer distances,” Garcia said. “It also brings a sense of pride knowing that I will be running in such a beautiful city that I call home.”

At the conclusion of the race, participants can look forward to the Spring Market Finish Festival which will provide a hot gourmet breakfast buffet, refreshing drinks
and a complimentary Lagunitas beer to those 21 and older. Visit the flower station
to plant a flower in a pot to take home as a reminder of the spring season, and enjoy
live music in Maggie Daley Park.

Youngsters can compete in the Junior Dash, which uses the Skating Ribbon as a
course. Distances vary by age, but every little runner receives a t-shirt and finisher prize.

For more information and to register, visit www.chicagospringhalf.com

Published on May 3